Feed aggregator

  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.
  • warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected 'America/Los_Angeles' for 'PST/-8.0/no DST' instead in /nfs/cristina/home1/b/brian/public_html/drupal-6.28/modules/aggregator/aggregator.pages.inc on line 259.

Apple beats Samsung in phone sales for first time since 2016

ArsTechnica - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 11:04am

Apple beat out Samsung to become the world's leading seller of smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a new data report by research firm Gartner. Samsung had outsold Apple since the same quarter in 2016.

Gartner estimates that Apple sold 79.94 million during the quarter, while Samsung managed to sell 62.17 million. Samsung did not release new flagship phones that quarter. Apple's sales were driven by the introduction of the new iPhone 12 lineup, which generally sold better than the previous year's iPhone updates. Apple sold 69.6 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2019.

However, this victory for Apple happened amid a general decline of the smartphone market. Overall smartphone sales declined 12.5 percent in 2020 and by 5.4 percent in the fourth quarter.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Self-driving companies are inching toward fully driverless service

ArsTechnica - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 10:54am
A Motional self-driving car in Las Vegas.

Enlarge / A Motional self-driving car in Las Vegas. (credit: Motional)

Motional, a joint venture of Hyundai and giant auto parts supplier Aptiv, has begun testing its self-driving vehicles in Las Vegas without anyone behind the wheel, the company announced in a Monday blog post.

Motional isn't ready to launch a driverless commercial service yet. But Motional—which was part of Aptiv before Hyundai's investment—has been operating a commercial self-driving taxi service (with safety drivers) for several years. The service is operated in partnership with Lyft; Lyft customers in Las Vegas can opt to ride in a Motional car during some of their rides. Motional says its vehicles have completed more than 100,000 rides without causing any crashes.

Motional says that it hired the German testing firm TÜV SÜD to examine its self-driving technology. After an 18-month review process, the firm endorsed the technology for driverless testing.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Blaming a wiggly jet stream on climate change? Not so fast

ArsTechnica - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 10:36am
The weather map on February 15.

Enlarge / The weather map on February 15. (credit: NASA EO)

Some songs are earworms—catchy whether you like them or not. (I won’t infect the rest of your day with an example.) Some explanations in science seem to be the earworm equivalent: inherently intuitive, making them stick readily in the mind. That’s obviously the case for the hypothesis that a warming Arctic leads to a wigglier jet stream, producing weather extremes in the mid-latitudes like the recent epic cold snap in the central US.

The cold arrived after the spinning “polar vortex” in the upper atmosphere above the Arctic was disturbed in January, unleashing its contents southward as the jet stream detoured from its usual commute. Could this behavior actually be a consequence of global warming? The suggestion has appeared in news articles and Twitter threads across the land. But the idea is stickier than the science says it should be.

Jet setting

Although the specifics vary, the general idea is based on the fact that the Arctic is warming faster than the mid-latitudes. As a result, the temperature difference between them is getting a little smaller. The jet stream forms at the boundary between the Arctic and mid-latitude air, so a smaller temperature difference would weaken the jet stream. And a weaker jet stream is more prone to great, wiggling meanders that can bring you cold air from the north or warm air from the south.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Consumer Reports creates a “green choice” for vehicle reviews

ArsTechnica - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 9:22am
A picture of a car made out of a leaf, with flowers coming out of the tailpipe

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

Almost one in four Americans are very concerned about vehicle tailpipe emissions, according to a survey conducted in January by the publication Consumer Reports. Nearly half of survey respondents also said that fuel economy is very important when considering a vehicle to buy or lease, and 27 percent were very worried about car exhaust contributing to climate change.

Consequently, Consumer Reports will now grade cars according to their environmental impact. It has launched a new "green choice" rating, identified by a green leaf icon, to help people quickly identify vehicles with the best fuel efficiency and lowest contributions to atmospheric CO2 levels and smog formation.

Interestingly, the survey also shows that nearly half of car buyers will use information about a vehicle's emissions to inform their buying—but only if they know where to look. Unfortunately, more than 50 percent are unaware that this information is displayed prominently on the Monroney sticker.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Take-Two DMCA takes down reverse-engineered GTA source code

ArsTechnica - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 9:13am

A Github project that generated reverse-engineered code for Grand Theft Auto III and Vice City was taken down over the weekend as the result of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act request from publisher Take-Two.

The project—comprising hundreds of thousands of lines of C++ code generated over years of painstaking analysis—did not distribute any of the copyrighted image or music files needed to recompile the game. Those files needed to be sourced from an authentic copy of the PC version of the games, originally released in 2002 and 2003.

This didn't prevent Take-Two from claiming that "the content in the links below consists of copyrighted materials owned by Take Two," as the DMCA notice reads, in part. "The use of our copyrighted content in these links are unauthorized and it should be removed immediately."

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

After Saturday’s engine failure, Boeing says many 777s should be grounded

ArsTechnica - Mon, 02/22/2021 - 7:19am
United Airlines 238 suffered an engine out failure on Saturday, Feb. 20.

Enlarge / United Airlines 238 suffered an engine out failure on Saturday, Feb. 20. (credit: Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

While the National Transportation Safety Board investigates an aircraft engine failure that occurred in flight on Saturday, manufacturer Boeing has recommended that airlines suspend flying certain versions of the 777 wide-body airliner.

"Boeing is actively monitoring recent events related to United Airlines Flight 328," the company stated on Sunday. "While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol."

There are versions of the 777 aircraft with engines built by three different manufacturers. For about the last 15 years, new 777s have all been delivered with GE-made engines. So this recommendation applies to older models of the aircraft still in service.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

A curious observer’s guide to quantum mechanics, pt 7: The quantum century 

ArsTechnica - Sun, 02/21/2021 - 7:00am
 The quantum century 

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

One of the quietest revolutions of our current century has been the entry of quantum mechanics into our everyday technology. It used to be that quantum effects were confined to physics laboratories and delicate experiments. But modern technology increasingly relies on quantum mechanics for its basic operation, and the importance of quantum effects will only grow in the decades to come. As such, physicist Miguel F. Morales has taken on the herculean task of explaining quantum mechanics to laypeople in this seven-part series (no math, we promise). Below is the series finale, but you can always find the starting story plus a landing page for the entire series on site.

The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed -William Gibson

As tool builders, it is only very recently that we’ve been able to use quantum mechanics. Understanding and manipulating quantum devices has been like getting an intoxicating new superpower—there are so many things we can now build that would have been impossible just a few years ago.

Read 35 remaining paragraphs | Comments

The AI research paper was real. The “co-author” wasn’t

ArsTechnica - Sun, 02/21/2021 - 4:50am
The AI research paper was real. The “co-author” wasn’t

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images)

David Cox, the co-director of a prestigious artificial intelligence lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was scanning an online computer science bibliography in December when he noticed something odd—his name listed as an author alongside three researchers in China whom he didn’t know on two papers he didn’t recognize.

At first, he didn’t think much of it. The name Cox isn’t uncommon, so he figured there must be another David Cox doing AI research. “Then I opened up the PDF and saw my own picture looking back at me,” Cox says. “It was unbelievable.”

It isn’t clear how prevalent this kind of academic fraud may be or why someone would list as a co-author someone not involved in the research. By checking other papers written by the same Chinese authors, WIRED found a third example, where the photo and biography of an MIT researcher were listed under a fictitious name.

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments

New malware found on 30,000 Macs has security pros stumped

ArsTechnica - Sat, 02/20/2021 - 8:10am
Close-up photograph of Mac keyboard and toolbar.

Enlarge (credit: Jayson Photography / Getty Images)

A previously undetected piece of malware found on almost 30,000 Macs worldwide is generating intrigue in security circles, and security researchers are still trying to understand precisely what it does and what purpose its self-destruct capability serves.

Once an hour, infected Macs check a control server to see if there are any new commands the malware should run or binaries to execute. So far, however, researchers have yet to observe delivery of any payload on any of the infected 30,000 machines, leaving the malware’s ultimate goal unknown. The lack of a final payload suggests that the malware may spring into action once an unknown condition is met.

Also curious, the malware comes with a mechanism to completely remove itself, a capability that’s typically reserved for high-stealth operations. So far, though, there are no signs the self-destruct feature has been used, raising the question of why the mechanism exists.

Read 11 remaining paragraphs | Comments

As coronavirus variants spread, the US struggles to keep up

ArsTechnica - Sat, 02/20/2021 - 6:00am
Masked people converse in front of whiteboard.

Enlarge (credit: Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images)

Across the United States, the coronavirus is in retreat. The pandemic is still raging, mind you, with more than 70,000 new cases still reported each day. But since the post-holiday peak in mid-January, the seven-day average of new cases has fallen by nearly 64 percent. Hospitalizations have plunged too. And with vaccinations accelerating, there is a glimmer of hope that this downward trend might be the start of COVID’s long slide toward containment, at least in the US and other wealthy countries that are hogging the shots.

But retreat does not always mean defeat. And the emergence of several worrisome new coronavirus variants with new tricks for spreading faster or evading immune responses presents another possibility: that the current reprieve will only be temporary. Public health experts are urging governments to prepare for a possible new wave of infections driven by variants like B.1.1.7, which has already been identified in more than 1,200 US cases and in nearly every state, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Prevention and Control.

That’s more than double the number reported two weeks earlier. But the real number is likely far higher. How much higher? No one knows. That’s because the only way to tell which version of the coronavirus is causing an infection is to sequence its genome. In this country, that should be easy enough—the US is a sequencing superpower. It has dozens of academic institutions and massive commercial labs with the capacity to crank out genomes at a rapid clip. But the federal government’s response through much of the pandemic didn’t include a plan to mobilize America’s DNA-mappers into a coordinated coronavirus-monitoring corps. SARS-CoV-2 surveillance, well, sucked.

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What’s new in the first Android 12 Developer Preview

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 4:30pm
This green circle (we added the background) is the Android 12 logo, we guess.

Enlarge / This green circle (we added the background) is the Android 12 logo, we guess.

The first Android 12 developer preview hit the streets Thursday, and we've played with it for a day. There's not a lot to see in this release—at least not at first. Most of the interesting bits are hidden, and the developer community is slowly enabling them. Many changes are half-finished alpha tweaks that will look different in the final release; after all, Google says these releases are for "testing and feedback."

This first release of Android 12 is meant to get some APIs and other changes in front of people for feedback, but it's also designed to not spill the beans too much on what the final build of Android 12 will look like. With that in mind, many of the features in an earlier Android 12 leak seem right on the money. This public release is a sanitized build with a lot of stuff turned off, but the more we flip on hidden flags and catch hints in the documentation, the more this build looks like a solid halfway point between Android 11 and those leaked Android 12 screenshots.

The notification panel

Google can never let an Android release go by without some notification changes, and this year it looks like we're getting a fresh design and a few other tweaks. Like everything else in the preview, we're only getting a half-finished look at things here.

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Diablo II Resurrected tops BlizzCon announcement flurry

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 3:59pm
Screenshot from upcoming video game.

Enlarge / Long rumored, finally confirmed. (credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard's latest BlizzCon event sees the longtime PC game maker at perhaps its most beleaguered yet. Game delays, notable departuresbotched remakes, smartphone-gaming backlash, and an anti-protester reputation have weighed down what was once a sterling RTS/RPG reputation. That led us to wonder: can today's streaming-only BlizzCon showcase of games and plans show that the company's recent hires and behind-the-scenes reshuffling are paying off?

In at least one respect, the outlook is optimistic, thanks to an impressive reveal of Diablo II: Resurrected. This long-rumored remake includes everything from both the base 2000 game and its 2001 expansion, Lord of Destruction. At first glimpse, this top-to-bottom remake seems to get everything right that WarCraft III: Reforged got so very, very wrong—and we won't have to wait very long to come up with our own impressions. Sign-ups for D2:R's technical alpha are now live ahead of the game's launch on PC and consoles "in 2021."

The right balance between preservation and polish?

We've grown increasingly skeptical of Blizzard's sales pitches in recent years, but so far, everything about D2:R strikes us as the right kind of "Blizzard Classic" approach, including the following sales pitches:

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Study blames Earth’s magnetic field flip for climate change, extinctions

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 3:46pm
Image of a large tree

Enlarge / The massive trunk of a kauri tree can remain intact for tens of thousands of years. (credit: W. Bulach / Wikimedia)

The Earth's magnetic field helps protect life from energetic particles that would otherwise arrive from space. Mars now lacks a strong magnetic field, and the conditions on its surface are considered so damaging to life that any microbes that might inhabit the planet are thought to be safely beneath the surface. On Earth, the magnetic field ensures that life can flourish on the surface.

Except that's not always true. The Earth's magnetic field varies, with the poles moving and sometimes swapping places and the field sometimes weakening or effectively vanishing. Yet a look at these events has revealed nothing especially interesting—no obvious connections to extinctions, no major ecological upsets.

A paper published yesterday in Science provides an impressively precise dating for a past magnetic field flip by using rings of trees that have been dead for tens of thousands of years. And it shows the flip was associated with changes in climate. But the paper then goes on to attempt to tie the flip to everything from a minor extinction event to the explosion of cave art by our ancestors. In the end, the work is a mix of solid science, provocative hypothesizing, and unconstrained speculation.

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Bitcoin’s value just passed $1 trillion

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 3:28pm
Bitcoin’s value just passed $1 trillion

Enlarge

Bitcoin's price soared past $56,000 on Friday, pushing the combined value of all bitcoins past the $1 trillion mark—at least in theory. That's more than the market capitalization of Facebook, though Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft are worth more. Bitcoin's value has almost doubled from $29,000 since the start of the year.

I say "in theory" because not all bitcoins are actually available for use. Each bitcoin (or fraction of a bitcoin) is secured by one or more cryptographic signatures. To transfer a bitcoin, you need to know its corresponding private key. And some of those keys have been lost—and it's impossible to know how many.

For example, a British man says he threw away a hard drive in 2013 that contained the keys to 7,500 bitcoins—worth around $400 million at today's price. He sought permission to excavate the dump containing the hard drive, but the request was denied.

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Pfizer vaccine doesn’t need ultra-cold storage after all, company says

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 2:47pm
A picture taken on January 15, 2021 shows a pharmacist holding with gloved hands a vial of the undiluted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19.

Enlarge / A picture taken on January 15, 2021 shows a pharmacist holding with gloved hands a vial of the undiluted Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19. (credit: Getty | JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER)

In a bit of good news, Pfizer and BioNTech announced today that their highly effective COVID-19 vaccine does not require ultra-cold storage conditions after all and can be kept stable at standard freezer temperatures for two weeks.

The companies have submitted data to the US Food and Drug Administration demonstrating the warmer stability in a bid for regulatory approval to relax storage requirements and labeling for the vaccine.

If the FDA greenlights the change, the warmer storage conditions could dramatically ease vaccine distribution, allowing doses to be sent to non-specialized vaccine administration sites. The change would also make it much easier to distribute the vaccine to low-income countries.

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NASA releases “exhilarating” image of Mars rover just above the planet

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 2:12pm
This is a high-resolution still image, part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars.

Enlarge / This is a high-resolution still image, part of a video taken by several cameras as NASA’s Perseverance rover touched down on Mars. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA on Friday released new images of its Perseverance spacecraft approaching the surface of Mars and safely settling upon the red planet.

The new photos included an arresting image of the Jeep-sized rover nearing Mars, seemingly dangling from the sky crane that was lowering it to the surface about 7 meters below. This image was pulled from footage of the rover's landing, captured by on-board cameras. A complete video of the dramatic landing sequence may be released as early as Monday after NASA engineers receive more data from Mars.

"It is exhilarating. It is absolutely exhilarating," said Adam Steltzner, the chief engineer for the Perseverance mission, which successfully landed on Mars on Thursday. These kinds of dramatic images, he said, help bring the world along for the ride on missions of exploration.

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Apple faces development hurdles with MagSafe battery pack accessory

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 12:17pm

Bloomberg has published yet another report sharing details of a planned Apple product launch. This time, the publication's sources say Apple is working on a magnetically attached battery pack for iPhones—it would be the first Apple-designed iPhone battery pack that does not double as a case.

The accessory would use the MagSafe feature introduced with the iPhone 12 lineup in October. It would magnetically attach to the back of new iPhones and presumably provide power wirelessly via the Qi standard that iPhones have adopted. According to Bloomberg's sources, the first prototypes have a "white rubber exterior."

Apple has also already shipped some MagSafe accessories for the iPhone, including a charging cable that uses the magnets and other components to optimally align the charging coils and produce faster charging speeds than were possible with previous iPhone models with non-MagSafe Qi charging capability.

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It took a year, but Gwyneth Paltrow figured out how to exploit the pandemic

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 11:50am
It took a year, but Gwyneth Paltrow figured out how to exploit the pandemic

Enlarge

Gwyneth Paltrow is at it again. Here's the scene for the perfect grift for our times:

Tens of millions of people around the country have fallen ill with COVID-19. Nearly half a million have died. Given chronic testing shortages, millions more have likely been infected and never diagnosed. Some of those infected will develop long-term effects, suffering lingering symptoms for weeks to months—or maybe longer.

Sometimes the symptoms appear to be direct extensions of the illness, such as lingering shortness of breath, cough, and/or chest pain. Other times, the symptoms may be more nondescript, such as fatigue and trouble concentrating, aka “brain fog.”

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Comcast reluctantly drops data-cap enforcement in 12 states for rest of 2021

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 10:26am
The back of a Comcast van driving along a street in Sunnyvale, California.

Enlarge / A Comcast van in Sunnyvale, California, in November 2018. (credit: Getty Images | Andrei Stanescu)

Comcast is delaying a plan to enforce its 1.2TB data cap and overage fees in the Northeast US until 2022 after pressure from customers and lawmakers in multiple states.

"[W]e are delaying implementation of our new data plan in our Northeast markets until 2022," Comcast said in an announcement yesterday. "We recognize that our data plan was new for our customers in the Northeast, and while only a very small percentage of customers need additional data, we are providing them with more time to become familiar with the new plan."

Comcast has enforced the data cap in 27 of the 39 states in which it operates since 2016, but not in the Northeast states where Comcast faces competition from Verizon's un-capped FiOS fiber-to-the-home service. In November 2020, Comcast announced it would bring the cap to the other 12 states and the District of Columbia starting in January 2021. But with yesterday's announcement, no one in those 12 states and DC will be charged overage fees by Comcast in all of 2021.

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UK Supreme Court says Uber drivers are not independent contractors

ArsTechnica - Fri, 02/19/2021 - 10:14am
UK Supreme Court says Uber drivers are not independent contractors

Enlarge (credit: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom has ruled that Uber drivers are legally workers, not self-employed contractors as Uber has argued in courts around the world. The ruling means that drivers in Britain and Northern Ireland are eligible for additional benefits and protections, including a minimum wage.

Uber claims that it merely acts as a technology provider and broker between independent drivers and their customers—much as eBay facilitates sales between buyers and sellers. In Uber's view, this means that it doesn't owe its drivers benefits like unemployment insurance, doesn't need to reimburse drivers for their costs, and isn't bound by minimum wage and overtime rules. Uber emphasizes that its drivers are free to decide when, where, and how much they work.

But critics point out that Uber exerts a lot more control over its drivers—and over the driver-passenger relationship—than a conventional platform like eBay or Airbnb. Uber sets fares, collects payments from customers, deducts its own fee, and remits the remainder to the driver. It requires drivers to accept a large majority of the rides they are offered. It handles customer complaints and kicks drivers off the platform if their average rating falls too low.

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